Archived Story

The other shoe falls, with a splash

Published 10:54am Saturday, February 9, 2013

I got cold feet Thursday morning.

The uncomfortable feeling actually began 11 days earlier, when we bit the bullet and decided to refinish the red oak floors that cover most of the rooms and the staircase in our Alexander City home.

I’ve never spoken to anyone who said refinishing floors was an easy process, including Holman Floors – the company that did the work for us. Before I go any further, I need to say that Neal Watts and the folks at Holman Floors did a yeoman’s job at our house. Our 77-year-old house has never looked better, at least in the 13 years we’ve owned it.

But for Holman to do the work, we had to vacate the premises. So did all our stuff. Pictures came down off the walls, rugs were rolled up into multicolored burritos, all the furniture was stacked in the kitchen and upstairs.

The house was stripped bare. And then Holman did the same to our floors, sanding out the gouges and stains from years of hard wear and sealing the newly smooth wood with three coats of satin sealer.

We moved in with our friends Roger and Cindy Holliday for 10 days when all that was being done. Before I go any further, I need to say that Roger and Cindy run a fine, comfortable guest house with top-flight amenities. We had a thoroughly enjoyable time staying with them, and I really didn’t want to leave.

But my father-in-law, a very wise man, always says that guests and fish both start stinking after three days. With that in mind, after our 10-day visit, and after Holman said our floors were ship-shape to walk on, we decided to pack our bags, let the Hollidays get back to their routine and move home Wednesday.

We also decided to call Allen Wesson of Painting by Allen to touch up get the baseboards and the doors and most everything that’s white in our house before we moved back in.

Before I go any further, I need to say that Allen, who’s a really good painter and a nice guy to work with, did a fast, efficient job of getting everything painted, and I only saw a single, tiny speck of white paint on our brand new floors, which Allen made disappear in short order.

Our house simply looked terrific. We thought we were luckier than the other 99 percent of homeowners who all seem to have horror stories about refinishing their floors.

So Mary Lyman and I happily moved our suitcases out of the truck and settled in to our own bed in a brand new home Wednesday evening. That was at 10 o’clock. An hour or so later we both woke up, overcome by a toxic combination of curing paint and sealer fumes that seemed to get worse as the night went on, like the flu.

We groggily moved to two upstairs sofas that were still pushed together in a corner, found a couple of sleeping bags to unroll on top of the sofas, and climbed in, convincing ourselves that it would be like camping for the night.

Until the green fog woke us again an hour later. We were both being not-so-slowly tenderized in a vaporous marinade. Mary Lyman’s lips had begun to swell, my eyes were watering.

We decided we had to vacate again, but it was after midnight, too late to knock on a friend’s door and a tough time to find a hotel room.

In a moment of desperation, I spotted my old backpacking tent in an upstairs closet.

Dressed only in boxer shorts with a sleeping bag draped across my shoulders, I hauled the tent out into the yard, hunting for a level, grassy spot.

Mary Lyman nixed the first two locations because the neighbors could see us, so I was forced to pitch the tent on a slope behind the blueberry bush.

For the third time in the same night we climbed into “bed,” grateful for the fresh air and the mild February temperature, and we snuggled up for a few hours of urban camping.

That’s when the rain came.

Around 3 a.m., when it was raining hard, Mary Lyman waded to the house to visit the bathroom and never returned. She decided fumes where the lesser of two evils and slept on a sofa in front of an open door downstairs.

I woke up early Thursday morning, wondering where my wife was, and when I stretched out to go find her I literally heard the splash in the lower end of my water-filled tent.

That’s when I got cold feet.

But our house looks great.

Boone is publisher of The Outlook.